The database state is one step closer
Courtesy of the EU, and we're now well on the way to bypassing the British parliament just as Blair and co planned (even if they did originally want the data to be stored for three years):
"An European Union parliament committee voted on Thursday to keep details of all EU-wide telephone calls and Internet use for six months to a year to help combat terrorism and serious crime.There have, however, been a number of improvements to the original proposals, which were basically drafted by Britain and brought in via the Commission, notably
"Telecoms firms typically store data for three months for billing customers, but some member states such as Britain want data to be kept for much longer...
"Details on a fixed-line call would include name and address of caller, number dialled, name and address of the receiver, the date and the start and completion times of the call.
"Details of a mobile phone call would include the subscriber's identity number or SIM card and the location at the start of the call."
"The committee also agreed that only a judge could authorise access to telephone and Internet traffic, a condition absent in the Commission proposal."Though now semi-approved by the committee, this could all yet be thrown out by the European Parliament. Fingers crossed, eh?
Nonetheless, after yesterday's UK-initiated proposals to allow police and security services across the EU full access to other countries' databases, it would seem that even though they have only got a month to go, Blair's boys in Brussels haven't given up yet. The predictions of an abject failure for the UK EU Presidency may yet have been premature...
Update: An overview of Brussels reactions and, via the comments, a really rather useful run-down of the major issues at stake.